It's the first TWiP of 2k12! Amazing!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Hello there! It's a whole new year and an exactly the same TWiP! This week is thankfully a wee bit shorter than the last one, but it's still high quality indeed.
As always, click the links to head to each Outhouse discussion thread to join the scintillating conversation.
Iron Man 2.0 #12 – This series ended with more of a whimper than a bang really, but it was still enjoyable as it's always good fun to see Iron Man and War Machine go up against each other. I did like how Palmer Addley was almost impossible to defeat right to the very end, and that it was Rhodey who defeated him, because it looked for a while like Reed Richards was just going to come in out of the blue and wave his science wand. The art was a bit of a mess again, I really like Carmine Di Giandomenico so it was cool to see him again, but his style really doesn't match Olivetti's or Pierfederici's. I wonder what it is about Rhodey that means his solo series just can't last? He's a good character that combines a lot of the good stuff about Iron Man with a more military setting, so why can't it catch on? Even with Iron Man in the title? It's annoying, because I feel Spencer had a good take on the character and could have taken things on nicely, but as it stands he only just managed to finish his big Palmer Addley story. I suppose I'll just have to take my Rhodey where I can get it in Secret Avengers and wait for the next ongoing that'll only last 12 issues (yes, I know technically this book had 13).
Mighty Thor #9 – This book is moving slowly at the moment, but in a direction that I'm liking. We only see Thor at the beginning and end of the issue, but the real focus is not on him, but on what's going on without him. The scene with Loki and Don Blake was great, and Fraction plays Loki's confusion about how he remembers Thor brilliantly. I'm also very interested in the All-Mother's plans to democratise Asgard, it's such a weird idea, but one that fits, the Gods have moved to America, a country that holds no truck with absolute monarchy. I personally would vote for Volstagg. It was also cool to see Tanarus fight alongside the Avengers, and how he's different from Thor, more vicious, but I suppose he his a troll. Ferry's art was as always very strong, and it's a testament to Pepe Larraz that I couldn't really tell which pages he was drawing, his style matched Ferry's very well. I must say that the scene at the end where Silver Surfer reveals Mjolnir may be my moment of the week so far, especially when it empowered Thor wherever he is. And how weird is the Surfer? Letting crows eat his guts just to experience it? Fraction is really having fun with the character both here and in Defenders, you never know what to expect with him at the moment, and it's exciting.
Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive #527 – It was pretty awesome that Michael Avon Oeming drew this issue, I'm a big fan of his and it's rare to see him on a mainstream superhero title like this one. This is a rare and beautiful thing. His art is very suitable for this book too, he knows how to use shadows, and this issue reminded me a lot of Batman: The Animated Series, which considering the debt this book owes to Batman, is high praise. This issue didn't really move the plot forwards too much, it was more Panther and Kingpin moving their pieces around the board, but Liss did get in some great action sequences, and the ending was great, how the hell is T'Challa supposed to stop Wakanda being attacked from New York? Though I'm sad this book is ending, the finale promises to be spectacular.
Secret Avengers #20 – This issue kind of hurt my head with all the time-skips, but I really enjoyed the ride. Ellis is very good at taking silly superhero clichés like using time-travel to save the day and exposing them to his almost-reality. So we see how long it would take for Black Widow to save the day, she was time-travelling for almost 3 weeks to prepare for one moment. Really interesting. Maleev's art was great as usual, and I'm not really sure what the point was of the Modesty Blaise homage in the middle there, but it was fun. There's only one more issue of Ellis' run, let's hope it's as good as the others have been. I'd love to see Ellis come in and take this approach with some other books, it's refreshing for all involved.
FF #13 – This issue was crazy, Franklin facing up the Celestials was just brilliant, I may be down on Hickman a lot of the time, but I really like what he's doing with Franklin and just hope he doesn't chicken out and get rid of his powers at the end like most writers who play with this stuff do. I wasn't too sure what was going on in the rest of this book though, Valeria and Nathaniel Richard's chat about science went way over my head, but it did include a nice recap on what's been going on. It was cool to see one of the Evil Reed's redeem himself a little, because I get bored of everyone hating on Reed all the time, he's a good guy at the heart of it! Doom at the end was pretty bad-ass too, Val should give him her lightsaber, that would be amazing. Bobillo's art adds to the fun of this book I feel, it's just as weird as Hickman really, I particularly like how he draws Leech as this strange little dude staring blankly at stuff.
Uncanny X-Men #3 – Good God is Mister Sinister annoying, his constant monologuing was really starting to piss me off, at least until Gillen had Cyclops call him out on it and I realised it wasn't dodgy writing but characterisation. I also liked how he dropped a big ol'Phoenix hint on Hope, that storyline keeps building and building very nicely. The ending where the team stood up to the Celestials was pretty awesome, but it was kind of lessened by the fact that I had just read FF, where Franklin stands up to them too, when you've seen one 12 year-old kid do it, it's not so impressive from a bunch of full-grown mutants is it? But it did get across Gillen's point about the X-Men trying to scare the world into accepting them quite well. Has Emma lost her arm permanently then? That'll be interesting going forward, maybe she'll get a robot arm, that's never happened in the X-Men before, wink wink.
Avengers: The Children's Crusade #8(of 9) – Does this book have the longest recap page ever or what? And it needs it! Lots happens here and it's delayed so long that you forget. This issue basically boiled down to a big fight against Doom and a strange homage to Secret Wars, but it worked, especially with Cheung's fantastic artwork, but did anyone else feel that Wiccan's speech to Cyclops about how everyone else had been a villain before or whatever was a bit like a forum post come to life? It was a little cheesy. The ending was good though, I knew Heinberg wouldn't kill Scott Lang off so soon, but I didn't expect him to kill Cassie instead! Of course she'll probably be back in #9, but until then, consider me surprised.
Annihilators: Earthfall #4(of 4) – Yes, the ending to this was just a big cosmic mcguffin, but it worked, and it allowed us to see a fight between the other Annihilators and Gladiator, which was awesome. I do feel that this mini probably focussed a bit too much on the Annihilators and didn't give the Avengers that much to do, but it was cool to see them come together and to compare and contrast their approaches to fighting crime. If you can call what the Annihilators fight crime, it's a bit bigger than that. The final page with the statement about scale was the perfect summation for what DnA have done with Cosmic Marvel, they've had to tell stories of such an epic scale and pulled it off time and time again, it's been great fun and I'll miss them. Let's hope Loeb doesn't mess it up eh? The Rocket Raccoon/Groot story ended well too, very funny, and I'd love to see more, how about a Christmas special next year? Groot covered in baubles or something.
The Ultimates #5 – Yay! Ultimate Falcon is back! I love that guy. This issue was kind of a pause from the breakneck speed of the first arc, and it was necessary. We catch up with all of our characters with some great scenes as they contemplate on recent events. I continue to really like Hickman's take on Tony Stark. I often rag on the guy for not being able to write characters, but in this book he's demonstrating he can. And there was humour too! Volstagg's 'I farted' line was classic. It was also cool how this book caught us up with events in the other Ultimate books, so we saw Hawkeye give a briefing on the events of his own mini-series, and we sort of got to see the debut of the Ultimate Runaways. We also get to see Spider-Woman discover the existence of Miles Morales, which is kind of odd timing since we saw their fight last week in Ultimate Spider-Man #5, but it worked well and really emphasised how close all the writers are trying to make the Ultimate Universe at the moment. I was disappointed that Ribic only did 4 or so pages here, but Brandon Peterson was a good fill-in, and it was great to see him go back to his old, non-computerised style. Oh yeah, and Captain America is back too, I told you he would be.
Ultimate X-Men #5 – A lot of the plot threads are starting to come together now, as we see how what's going on with Rogue, Stryker and Quicksilver kind of link up. It was shocking to see Stryker execute what looked to me like Ultimate Beak, and then to find out he was a mutant himself was interesting too. But if his power is controlling machines, how is he 'healing' mutants? Also interesting is the notion that someone or something is controlling everything, Stryker and Rogue think it's God, but I'm guessing it's actually a not-dead Charles Xavier. Ultimate Charlies was always more of a douche than the original, so I wouldn't put it past him. Or maybe in a Battlestar Galactica style twist, it will actually be God. The X-Men Vs. God, coming this summer!
Kick-Ass 2 #6(of 7) – The violence! Fucking hell, the violence! This comic is Wertham's worst nightmare and it is awesome. I'm sure as a good liberal I should find this book abhorrent, but it's just a lot of fun to see all those brains and limbs splattered about, especially when it's the glorious return of Hit-Girl. Yes it's morally wrong, but it feels so right. I also really like the joke about Red Mist/Mother-Fucker's shark tank, and how the shark is really rubbish, very funny stuff and a nice parody of 'evil lairs'. The big Times Square fight we saw a bit of waaay back in #1 is here, and I can predict one thing: there will be blood. And dick jokes.
Superman #4 – Another issue packed full of words, but not much actually happened here, everyone seemed to be dithering about and worrying about Clark all the time. I do like how Perez has subtly been building up to a revelation that something's not right in Clark's head with his amnesia, but does it seem counter-intuitive to anyone else to kick off the brave new world of Superman with a story where he's not acting like himself? We as readers had no idea he was being strange because we don't know what's normal! The art was good though and the last page reveal that it was Superman himself who apparently created these monsters was very cool, I'm intrigued as to how all that went down.
Aquaman #4 – Aquadog? Ugh, lame lame lame. But other than that, this was good, Aquaman and Mera's journey into the depths was wonderfully creepy and atmospheric, and whilst it's not normally a good idea to have your hero commit genocide, it did get across just how awesome Aquaman is. I'm kind of disappointed that the Trench have been killed off so quickly because they could have been developed further, but it looks like their deaths have led on to the story that will be the main driving force behind Johns' run, which is exploring the history of Atlantis and how it was sunk. I'm surprised that this stuff hasn't been explained before, Aquaman's been around since the 40s, surely someone has done it? No? Maybe that Atlantian wizard will show up, Arion.
I, Vampire #4 – Kind of convenient isn't it that John Constantine just happened to be in the same random no-horse town as Andrew? Very convenient indeed. But I don't really mind because it was a really fun guest-appearance and Fialkov writes a pretty good Constantine, once Milligan leaves the book, perhaps he can take over? Although smoking in restaurants is banned across the whole of the UK, so John Constantine would probably be used to that. This issue was kind of a pause from the main plot, but it developed the theme of Andrew's inner strength being what sets him apart from other Vamps, and that it's all about self-control. The fact that the Vampire he killed is Tig's dad is very interesting too, that should be an interesting plotline. Sorrentino's art continues to be perfect for the tone of the series, the depiction of Constantine was almost as good as Tim Bradstreet.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #4 – You all know I hate Larfleeze with the passion of a billion exploding suns, so I won't bore you with an anti-Larfleeze rant, but his starring role here did tar my opinion of this book. The annoying orange gimp aside, this was a solid comic, with a strong emotional core coming from a focus on Kyle's relationship with Ganthet, who really is his sort of surrogate dad. It really pisses me off what's happened to Ganthet so I'm glad Kyle and Sayd are trying to reverse it. It's good that we've got the team altogether now with a purpose, and the idea of the Orrery is a cool one. I'm not too sure why Bedard decided to give Arkillo back his tongue, perhaps to spare the letterer some annoying work?
All-Star Western #4 – This is one of my favourite books of the DC relaunch now, Jonah Hex is just such a bad-ass and it's a lot of fun seeing him outside his element in Gotham. This issue tackles a serious issue in child abduction, but it was still enjoyable, and Gray and Palmiotti really let Moritat go crazy with disturbing imagery and grotesques, the sick child in the orphanage is a haunting image. Moritat's backgrounds are also fantastic, the underground mine was amazing. The back-story about Barbary Ghost seems interesting too, but I hope the character isn't actually supernatural, I think this book should try and be as realistic as possible, especially when in the new DCU superhumans didn't come into being until 5 years ago.
American Vampire #22 – Is this week's New Review Group book, so join us (well, join me) as we discuss the latest issue of Scott Snyder's epic, which takes us to 1950s America, complete with milkshakes and jukeboxes and the Fonz.
The Unwritten #32.5 – These '.5' issues have been good so far, but they've done less revealing of secrets than I expected, Carey is still dancing around the edges of the truth, and this issue in particular clouds the issue of who Pullman is even more than before. I had thought that he was the Huntsman from Snow White before, but now... is he Adam? I dunno. This issue takes us back to the very beginning of the written word, and some of the earliest stories of Gilgamesh as he hunts down a creature that's been at the secret heart of this series so far, Leviathan. I think it's clear that Utnapishtim is Pullman, I had suspected it, but when he lost his hand it became obvious, and the story he tells is not about the real world and the spirit world, but about the world of stories. Dean Ormston's art fit well with Gross' layouts, and they combined to make something almost like Chris Samnee. This issue may have raised more questions than it answered, but it was still excellent and is yet more evidence that The Unwritten has the deepest backstory of almost any comic out there.
DMZ #72 – Brian Wood takes a leaf out of Y: The Last Man's book and leaps forward in time for the final instalment of his Vertigo opus, showing us what New York City is like in 15 years time, rebuilt and shiny, but with the spectre of war just behind everything. It's a bitter-sweet ending in a lot of ways, because Matty spends the rest of his life in prison with lots of regrets, but what he did ensures that the DMZ had a future. I'm not sure if the anonymous woman wandering around the city reading Matty's book is supposed to be someone we know or the daughter of someone we know, but I suspect she's meant to be an everyman (or everywoman) and representative of the reader. This issue was a great encapsulation of the events of the previous 71 issues, and some of the memorials and moments really stood out for me, the Day 204 memorial will live in my memory, and it's a fictional tragedy! It feels strange to me that DMZ is ending, it was the first Vertigo series I ever picked up in single issues and has been a constant in my comic book life for 6 years now. I'm sad to see it go, but it told the story it wanted to, and I'll want to revisit it again and again. Thanks Brian and Riccardo and everyone else, you rocked it.
Spaceman #3(of 9) – Just when I thought I was used to the future-slang, Azzarello chucks a load more at me! Gah! But the language barrier aside, this is shaping up to be a fantastic story, you've got the media satire going on in the present, with Orson having to protect the little girl, and then there's the developing mystery in the past (Note, both the past and the present in this book are of course in our future, don't get confused) which was made even more interesting in this issue by the revelation that there was gold on Mars and that Orson's fellow Spaceman, Carter is a scary looking bounty hunter who is out to retrieve Tara for the criminal who wanted her kidnapped. Very interesting indeed, can't wait to see what happens when Orson and Carter come face to face. Topped off with fantastic Risso art, and Spaceman is becoming a real treat, don't be put off by the slang, it's just window-dressing to a fantastic plot.
Haunt #20 – Joe Casey and Nathan Fox continue to do remarkable stuff here, they've completed revamped what was a pretty good book beforehand into something spectacular and crazy. The art is brilliant, scratchy yet hyper-detailed, alternative yet mainstream, and the story Casey is telling, whilst it's only getting started, looks set to be gripping. The Second Church are scary-as-heck villains, there's still the mystery of Kurt's change in attitude, and now he throws in a strange new character in Still Harvey Tubman, who not only kicks ass, but I think may actually be Jesus Christ. Come on, it makes sense, he has a beard, he mentions getting 'nailed' and he doesn't like the organised religion, but instead of throwing over tables and stuff, he blows shit up. He's Jesus, I'm telling you.
Boom! I hope you enjoyed that one, I know it's once again a little bit late, but I promise that next week's will be more on time. In fact, I resolve it! Speaking of next week, it's another good one, especially with a new issue of Action Comics, a bumper-sized Avengers Annual and the return of the Age Of Apocalypse!
Oh yeah, I forgot, my favourite from this week? I think it has to be DMZ doesn't it? A really strong ending to a fantastic series, if you've never read, go get the trades post-haste. I also liked this week's Kick-Ass 2 a lot, but I'm too sophisticated to admit it.
TWiP Second Opinions!
- Only one this week, but it's a good'un, as Dom G reviews Secret Avengers #20, and he has a... different take from mine.
Review by: Niam Suggitt